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WE MUST STOP BEING IN PERPETUAL REACTION MODE!

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Author Topic: WE MUST STOP BEING IN PERPETUAL REACTION MODE!  (Read 7086 times)
Geolibertarian
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« on: August 24, 2010, 09:07:53 am »

In 2003, hundreds of thousands in the U.S. alone protested against the Iraq war before it had even started, yet the war was launched anyway.

Upon reading the following excerpt, most readers will likely have a much better understanding as to the reason why:

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J. Hunter O'Dell, one of [Martin Luther] King's early lieutenants in the movement, recognized the fixation with media developing among civil rights activists and lamented the consequences.

"We all recognize that technologically this is a media age," O'Dell wrote. "But it was disastrous for us to rely primarily upon these corporate forms of mass communication to get our message and analysis out to the public....In the end, it means a new kind of addiction to media rather than being in charge of our own agenda and relying on mass support as our guarantee that ultimately the news-covering apparatus must give recognition to our authority."

O'Dell's point is that the civil rights movement acquired its "authority" to articulate large political aspirations, not because network television came to Selma or Birmingham, but from the hundreds and even thousands of meetings in black churches, week after week, across the South over many years. The dramatic spectacles that appeared on TV were the product of those mobilizing sermons and dialogues, not the other way around.

The movement's organizing processes, O'Dell noted, contained all of the functional elements of a responsible political organization -- mass education and communication as well as continuing accountability between the leaders and the supporting throngs. "The power of any movement for democracy," O'Dell emphasized, "is always dependent on such reciprocal relations between the mass of people and their leadership."

These elements are missing, it seems, from much of the irregular citizens' politics that tries to emulate King's heroic model. Activists hold press conferences or arrange dramatic events to prod the political system. But patiently built reciprocal relationships between leaders and followers, the laborious tasks of education and communication, are often not even attempted. To be blunt, there is a hollowness behind many of the placards and politicians know it.

Succeeding generations of political activists, it often seems, copied the glamorous surfaces of the civil rights legacy -- the hot moments of national celebrity so well remembered -- while skipping over the hard part, the organizational sinew that was underneath.

-- William Greider, Who Will Tell the People, p. 206

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